Last week, I offered up some sure to be wrong predictions about the Phillies’ infield. Now its time to do the same for the outfielders.
Kyle Schwarber will not lead the National League in home runs in 2023, but he will arguably have a better overall season. Due to the rule changes regarding infield positioning, it’s easy to predict that any pull-hitting lefty will see an increase in batting average. With Schwarber expected to bat second behind Trea Turner, it stands to reason that he’ll have an impressive RBI total for anyone who still cares about that stat.
And for whatever reason, Schwarber absolutely owns the month of June. So, let’s go ahead and say he captures a third straight NL Player of the Month Award for that month in 2023.
Kyle Schwarber’s final numbers in June: .272/.385/.680 with 12 home runs, 27 RBIs, 19 walks and a 1.065 OPS.— Tim Kelly (@TimKellySports) July 1, 2022
I’m not especially excited about Brandon Marsh. I think he’ll be an upgrade over what Odubel Herrera and Matt Vierling gave them in the first part of 2022 (low bar, cleared), but I’m not expecting all that much offense out of him. He’s still very young, and maybe Kevin Long can indeed unlock his potential, but I have a feeling that by midseason, he won’t be getting many at bats against left-handed pitching.
I also wasn’t overwhelmed by his defense after coming over last year. He has a reputation as a Gold Glove caliber fielder, but there were a couple notable lapses. I’ll cut him a little slack though, as trying to cover ground between Schwarber and Nick Castellanos isn’t the easiest task in the world.
Noah Syndergaard and Connor Brogdon have given the #Phillies everything they could have wanted through five innings: two runs, four hits, nine strikeouts.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) November 4, 2022
That first-inning run probably doesn't score without the Brandon Marsh error sending Altuve to third.
Speaking of Castellanos, like many pundits, I’m predicting a bounce back season from him. You should probably take this with a grain of salt because right until the final out, I thought he had a moment of World Series greatness in him, and we saw how that turned out. But I thought there were many factors that contributed to his poor season, and most of them shouldn’t apply in 2023.
Nick Castellanos’ wife is having a baby, which is why he got scratched from tonight’s lineup. He hasn’t been placed on paternity leave list yet.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) May 3, 2022
He might not return to his All-Star level of 2021, but I think he can hit 25+ home runs. It would also be nice if he could play defense like he did in the playoffs, and not like the regular season, but considering he basically admitted that was mostly effort-based, I wouldn’t get your hopes up.
I was impressed by what I saw in a very small sample size from Dalton Guthrie in 2022. However, he seems to have fallen behind some of the other candidates for a bench spot in the Spring. Jake Cave in particular is off to a blistering start to his Spring, and although the Phillies would probably prefer a right-handed bat as their primary outfield reserve, if Cave continues to hit well, he may force their hand.
That said, I think Guthrie will make his way to the big-league roster soon enough, and he’ll be getting a fair share of starts in center against left-handed pitchers by July.
As for Bryce Harper, my prediction is that he plays a grand total of zero games in the outfield. I think he’ll be back in the lineup in June, but the team won’t want to risk further injury and will keep him as the designated hitter for the entire season.